At the end of August, Tallinn City Government installed three "pocket parks" on the streets of the capital. According to Tallinn Deputy Mayor Madle Lippus, the aim of the pocket parks is to make the city's streets more pleasant places to spend time.
At the end of August, Tallinn City Government installed three "pocket parks" on the streets of the capital. According to Tallinn Deputy Mayor Madle Lippus, the aim of the pocket parks is to make the city a more pleasant place to spend time.
Also known as "mini-parks," pocket parks are small-scale spatial interventions, which, among other things, provide the public with places to sit and relax, with the concept having already been introduced in numerous cities around the world.
Lippus said, that the problem with Tallinn's street space is that there is very little greenery and there are also very few places to sit and relax, where you aren't expected to buy something.
"Tallinn's street space is predominantly covered with asphalt, and there have been hopes for a long time that something different (could be done)," said Lippus. "It takes time to make major changes and, if we were to consider a reconstruction project, where we redesign the entire street space, it could take three to four years. Smaller interventions like this are an opportunity to try out ideas and come up with quicker solutions," Lippus explained.
So far, three pocket parks, designed by Keiti Lige, have been installed in Tallinn, on Sakala tänav, Suur-Karja tänav and Kotzebue tänav. Lippus said, that the initial plan was to create more parks, but admitted that it was later adapted due to budget constraints. However, the deputy mayor added that, the first three parks were considered to be a pilot for the project, with more planned for the future. "The important thing about street space in Tallinn is, that while it is usually just thought of as an area used for getting from one place to another, it actually has a very high value, and that is what we are trying to show with such interventions, and by involving people," she said.
The mapping of suitable sites for pocket parks started this spring. This year, Lippus said, the focus was on locations in the city center, as both the need for the parks, and therefore their potential impact are greatest in that area. "We chose these places based on their impact in the street space – they are in places that are important to people, (but) where there is a lack of seating and greenery. At the same time, we wanted to be sure that if there is any noise from people talking in the pocket parks, it will not disturb those who live nearby."
Lippus admitted that, due to the limited amount of time available for the project this year, with the initial aim to have the pocket parks ready for the summer, there were no opportunities for broader engagement with local residents to discuss how the installations could best meet their needs. "The idea in future is to gather people's opinions (about the parks). The pocket parks we have today are modular, which means they can be assembled in different ways and adapted, depending on the situation, to meet people's needs" she said.
One of the city's goals with the pocket parks, according to Lippus, is to make people think of the street as a place where you can sit down and take your time if you need to. The city's current focus is to improve and redesign the urban space it to make it more comfortable for people with different mobility needs. There is also an emphasis on making school neighborhoods safer, which is the thinking behind installing two of the three pocket parks the immediate vicinity of schools.
The plan is to remove the pocket parks from the streets by winter, and put them back again next year. There are also future plans to install additional pocket parks in districts further away from the city center.
Editor: Michael Cole